Did you know that a number of top foods for joint health that are linked with reduced inflammation, with foods that can help arthritis symptoms? Wise Living rounds up ten to add to the menu now.
Top foods for joint health in winter
Joint pain can occur at any time of the year, but some people find it can particularly flare up when the weather is cold.
Some studies have suggested that this because when temperatures dip, our body prioritises supplying vital organs like the heart, which restricts how much blood it sends to our hands and feet.
As a result, researchers have theorised that the tissues around the joints become less pliable, so joints can feel tighter and more uncomfortable than usual.
Joint pain can occur for a range of reasons, of course, including osteoarthritis, which affects millions of Brits to some extent or other.
While there’s no magic recipe to take arthritis away, there is evidence that diet – and certain top foods for joint health in particular – could play a role in helping fight inflammation and joint pain (alongside tailored professional advice from your doctor and medication if required).
Wondering which foods might help keep winter joint pain at bay? Here are ten foods that have been linked with joint health and that could help reduce some of the inflammation that can flare up, especially in winter…
Top 10 foods for joint health
1. Best fish for arthritis – salmon, trout and mackerel
Fatty and oily fish – like salmon, trout and mackerel – are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have found can help fight inflammation associated with arthritis pain. It’s thought that marine fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can reduce the production of immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines, which are both important components in the body’s inflammatory response. Experts generally recommend at least three to four ounces of fish, twice a week, to reap the joint-friendly benefits.
There are plenty of studies to back up the fact that oily fish are top foods for joint health. Research by the Department of Psychology at Toronto’s York University found consuming omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduced the need for pain relief for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.
A further study by the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland in 2009 found that people eating oily fish four-times a week recorded lower levels of compounds that are associated with inflammation.
Fish is also a great source of vitamin D, and low-levels of vitamin may be linked to increased arthritis symptoms.
2. Broccoli and arthritis
Broccoli makes it to the good food list of pretty much every healthy diet going. It’s packed with nutrients, and in particular is a good source of suloraphane, which has been linked to lowering inflammation. Suloraphane has been shown to the formation of cells linked to arthritis development, though the studies were limited to laboratories rather than conducted in human trials.
3. Garlic and arthritis
As well as being a delicious base for soups, sauces or a tasty stir-fry, studies have shown that people who regularly eat foods from the allium family enjoy fewer signs of osteoarthritis, the most common chronic joint condition in the UK.
Garlic, like onions and leeks, contains diallyl disulfide – an anti-inflammatory compound that can limit the effects of cytokines. Top tip: Plump for fresh garlic, as the preservatives in bottled garlic may effect some of its benefits.
Studies back up that fact you should consider adding more garlic to your diet. A study published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders found that people eating more garlic recorded a lower risk of developing hip osteoarthritis.
4. Spinach and arthritis
Spinach is one of the top foods for joint health primarily as it is loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds, as well as being chock full of essential nutrients. The secret to why spinach is a food that can help arthritis is linked to its high levels of antioxidant kaempferol.
A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine found that kaempferol can play a role in reducing the effects of agents that lead to inflammation.
A further study in the Medical Science Monitor by Hubei University of Chinese Medicine found that when applied to arthritic cartliage cells in a lab, kaempferol actively reduced levels of inflammation and was found to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
5. Ginger and arthritis
As well as being used to soothe an upset stomach, a daily slice of fresh ginger may also help ease the symptoms of arthritis. One 2001 study assessed how 261 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee responded to taking a capsule of ginger extract, twice a day. After six weeks, 63% reported improvements in their discomfort levels.
This aromatic spice can be used to add zest to cooking, enjoyed fresh or brewed in tea. If you’re not fond of the taste, you can find it in supplement form too.
6. Grapes and arthritis
One of the top foods for joint health, a bunch of grapes is useful for more than cheering up a friend when visiting them in hospital – they can actually play a role in healthy eating thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory prowess.
Grapes are a food that can help arthritis as it contains compounds such as resveratrol and proanthocyanidin. Resveratrol is found in the skin of the grape – which is why peeled grapes are less healthy for you – and one study found that resveratrol could play a role in slowing down and preventing the thickening of arthritic joints. Proanthocyanidin has also been found to reduce inflammation of the joints, though these were in concentrated form, and there have not been any tests involving humans to measure its effectiveness.
7. Walnuts and arthritis
Walnuts are one of the most versatile nuts going – you can sprinkle them on salads, toss them into a noodle dish, or simply enjoy them as a mid-morning snack. These hardy nuts are great for joints as they’re high in alpha linoleic acid (ALA), a type of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid which plays a role in keeping inflammation under control.
8. Olive oil for arthritis
Olive oil plays a role in what’s known as the mediterranean diet – did you know that eating a Mediterranean diet could reduce the risk of hearing loss? One of the reasons why olive oil ranks as one of the top foods for joint health is thanks to its excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Scientific research backs up the claims. One study by the Department of Medicine at Albany Medical College followed nearly 50 human participants who consumed either fish oil or took an olive oil capsule dose each day. After six months, the olive oil participants recorded a reduction in an inflammatory marker of 38.5%. Interestingly, the fish oil group recorded an even larger reduction of up to 55%.
9. Berries – one of the top foods for joint health
Who can resist a bowl of berries with a dollop of yogurt in the morning? As well as being naturally low in calories, this simple breakfast dish may also have some powerful benefits for joints – as well as your health in general.
Berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are top foods for joint health. They are loaded with antioxidants, which researchers have found can protect your body against inflammation and free radicals – unstable molecules that can damage cells and organs – and may be associated with lower levels of inflammation.
Take advantage of seasons fresh berries (although you can also buy them frozen), and if you have a garden, why not giving growing your own a go?
Did you know that blueberries are especially healthy? Read the Wise Living guide to blueberry heart health benefits and how to eat more blueberries to lower blood pressure.
10. Tart cherry juice
This is quite a specific food that can help arthritis, and is available as a juice in supermarkets and health food shops. Extracted from the fruit of the Prunus cerasus tree, look for unsweetened versions to supplement your healthy diet.
So what makes tart cherry juice an entrant onto the top 10 foods for joint health? It’s another anti-inflammatory, and a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that drinking around half-a-litre (500ml) of tart cherry juice each day over six weeks significantly reduced the symptoms of osteoarthritis.